Citizens of Everywhere – wake up and smell the covfefe. Its dictionary time again. In this year of change and torpor we’re taking our annual look at new words and concepts that have crept into our lexicon. We’re politely overlooking the deluge of ****ing swearing that seems to have taken over in literature, and we are less interested in Yoof talk, tech talk (you Glassholes) or pseudo consumerist claptrap (no Showrooming jive here). Nor are we focused on delightful but ephemeral neologisms like Spooge (any sealant or lubricant applied during the assembly of electronic equipment). Nor, sadly are we remotely interested in “cloot, gadgie, beezer, dreich, clart, drouth, gleed, mizzle, oxters, scoot-hole, smoor, boke, fissle, greet, hunker, swither”or other lovely but existing words and phrases. Ye olde is out. So too is Hoptanglish nonsense like ‘Tidalstride’, which means, allegedly, “a clog hewn from driftwood.”
That’s just not good.
Also apologies in advance if its a new word you’ve heard of before and I haven’t. Soz. I may just be inexplicably stagnorant (adj. 1. staggeringly ignorant 2. stagnant in ignorance).
Now I think if we’ve fully exhaustipated the rules and regs lets begin.
Finally critics of neologism itself i.e. “neologism is a tanbark: duplicative and tongue-obsessed” can Get in the Sea, that’s a Suckatude we won’t be tolerating round these parts.
[Note to users: typologisms (n) – neologisms accidentally created by a poor typist or editor are fine]
As in last year we’re interested in the political phrases slogans and concepts that have ear-wormed their way into our consciousness. This perfectly cromulent approach may be flawed but thems the rules. As is the way of things Sheeple we’ll kick off – but your very own suggestions are very much in demand. We can Editfy (v., to build up through correction of grammar, syntax, punctuation, etc) this thing together.
Maybe we should start by just confronting the whole Brexshit litany of new words that have bucklefusted their way into everyday lingo. Yes you Remoaners we’re talking Rejexit and Grexit and Scoxit and Nexit and Frexit (both now unlikely). It’s a veritable bravalanche of new terms and phrases. It’s almost like we’ve said “the economy’s going to tank and we won’t have any food when we kick out all the people that do all the actually useful jobs, so let’s play Sudoku”.
The question is will Brexiteers expressed Bremorse or even Bregret, as the debacle unfolds?
The whole thing is both Abhorrable and Craptacular (remarkably poor and disappointing).
But how do you avoid the politics of the new right dominating not just discourse but language itself? “Cuck” and “Snowflake” have entered the mainstream jumping from the thin-mouthed dolts of the Alt-Right to the keyboard warriors of your Twitter-stream.
“The word gained political potency during the 2016 election in the portmanteau “cuckservative” (cuck + conservative) used to imply that the mainstream conservatives of the Jeb Bush variety are weak and effeminate. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is not a cuckservative. He says what he wants and doesn’t care if it’s offensive. In reference to Trump’s comments about Megyn Kelly having “blood coming out of her wherever,” radio host Rush Limbaugh snarked, “If Trump were your average, ordinary, cuckolded Republican, he would have apologized by now.”
It’s origins are telling. “the word “cuck” resonates with white nationalists who feel as though their country has been taken away from them, and not enough had been done by the cuckservative establishment conservative party to protect it. “Cuck” is a concept borne out of insecurity: a fear that one is inadequate, sexually or otherwise, and that inadequacy will lead to the loss of the things that are important to him.
“And it’s becoming increasingly obvious: these men have lost. They have watched the first black president elected into office twice become a positive symbol for the progress and promise of our nation, both domestically and overseas; they have watched women join the workplace and become empowered enough to speak out at the injustices they face. They have watched as a “politically correct culture run amok” has made it socially unacceptable to be racist in public.”
Snowflake came to the UK via the dire bile-filled Haterade specialist Claire Fox and has been doing the rounds of the Fellow Travellers of the Alt Right brimming with ill-defined grievance and anger management problems ever since.
In one sense this language imbued with the hate and negativity of the right is part of our Pygymypolitik (see this vicious Gerald Warner piece here) and is the almost inevitable outcome of “not really knowing what to do”. Calling someone a member of the ‘Liberal Elite” or a “Social Justice Warrior” or accusing them of “virtue signalling” is all valid, but it is quite limited. There’s not much vision in insult.
Other more significant factors impacting on political language are the emergence of new and non-gendered roles and self-categorisation. The explosion of language about gender is bewildering but important. ‘Cisnormative’, ‘Bigender’, ‘Trigender’, ‘Polygender’, ‘Pangender’, ‘Aporagender’ are terms tumbling out of the new areas of self-expression and identity. Outshine has a handy primer on the subject here.
Inevitably American politics is coming up Trumps with a host of terms derived from the Clown President’s reign. Ironic maybe for an individual that struggles with so much with language that his arrival has unleashed a glossary of new words.
Trumponomics (the president’s economic policy), Trumpertantrum (angry early-morning tweeting laced with innuendo and falsehood) and Trumpkin (a pumpkin carved to resemble the former TV host) are amongst the POTUS-inspired new terms. Others include: Trumpflation, the inflation analysts predict will be caused by the new administration’s economic policies; Trumpist (a Trump supporter), Trumpette (a female Trumpist) and Trumpista (a rare Hispanic Trumpist).
We also have Healther, which came from “birther” and means a person who believes that Hilary Clinton has a serious, undisclosed illness, and Vichy Republican, “used by the left to describe a Republican who supports Trump because it is expedient.”
In other news we like Taserface, Broga and Narcopigeon: terms that brought delight in 2017. Narcopigeon – was of course a drugs-mule pigeon shot by Argentina police. Broga is of course Yoga for dudes, while Taserface is from a great scene in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. ‘Taserfacing’ might be the best way to respond to the purveyors of the new language of hate. To Patch (ignore diss or shun) them might be bettered only by mockery.
I think we can agree its best if we just avoid lolspeak altogether but it’s not so easy to dispense entirely with the language springing from online politics #hashtags and the Twitterati. There’s a fine line between Slacktivism (ineffective activism carried out by clicking online petitions) and Clicktivism (a pejorative word for armchair activists on social media) and Clickskreig – to engage in war using false news and propaganda with scandalous and intriguing “clickbait” titles and links. In fact we could be seen to be entering Terra nullius (/ˈtɛrə.nʌˈlaɪəs/, plural terrae nullius) a Latin expression meaning “nobody’s land”, a principle sometimes used in international law to describe territory that may be acquired by a state’s occupation of it. It’s not a new term at all but newly pressed into action.
Terra nullius is of course quite different from Nowhereville (a generic dumpy kinda town), which may be closer to Subtopia (coined by Ian Nairn) which is not remotely as bad as Dystopia. Subtopia is just somewhere where every things a bit shit, drab spiritless places let down by town planning.
See also Hutopia.
It’s not just Millenials and Screenagers (a person in their teens or twenties who has an aptitude for computers and the Internet) who are being effected by technology. I hadn’t heard of Doxxing (to search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.”hackers and online vigilantes routinely dox both public and private figures”) but I’m aware that others had.
Similarly the three B’s of Brandated (brand + mandated) “You should really be using the brandated heading style on that”, Barmocratic (barmy democracy) and Big Data only came into view in the last few months. And OMG I totes hadn’t even heard of Jeggings (n): Tight-fitting stretch trousers for women, styled to resemble a pair of denim jeans, or Lamp Post (a term used in Asian society to refer to an undesirable third party in the company of a couple who long to be left alone) – like a Gooseberry but far worse I think.
Many of these words will be gone soon, some will stick around. Much of the tech-speak/geek-speak is pretty uninspiring or maybe its just about stuff that we have a pretty ambiguous relationship with.
Of course as well as brand new words and portmanteau other words are being rediscovered. Robert Macfarlane has been doing a pretty impressive job of digging out words and phrases for natural phenomenon animals and places. It’s niche but sometimes the nicher the better. His Word of the Day from earlier this month was: “Caochan” – a stream so slender/overgrown it can scarcely be seen (Hebridean Gaelic, poss. from Old Irish ‘caeich’, blind).” To which he’s sluiced more water-words: swallet, flash, rhine, sike, stickle, ceol sruthán (‘murmur-music of streams’), as well as ghyll (Lake District), burn (Scots), beck (N. England), ffrwd (Welsh). So there’s something of a competition going on between global word memes (a word first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene) and relocalisation / rediscovery. Oddly technology aids both.
What phrases or concepts have we missed?
If your not too much of a “Smombie” (a person walking around unaware of his or her surroundings entirely absorbed in their smart-phone) leave us your favourites.
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